While we were still calling for the exoneration of three of our brave Navy SEALs from the assault charges that were brought against them, we missed news of how two Royal Marines were dismissed after being found guilty of assaulting a prisoner in Afghanistan.
Capt. Jody Wheelhouse and Sgt. Mark Leader were dismissed on April 7 after being accused of hitting an Afghan prisoner with a Wellington boot, according to a report on the Belfast Telegraph. The prisoner, Mohammad Ekhlas, was accused of planting improvised explosive devices or IEDs, one of the more common ways that soldiers of the United States and Britain and their allies are critically injured or killed. The incident was said to have occurred in March of last year.
A court martial panel found Sgt. Leader guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm, which led to his dismissal. Capt. Wheelhouse admitted attacking the Afghan prisoner Ekhlas at a separate hearing from that of Leader’s; Wheelhouse was sentenced to dismissal with disgrace.
Judge Michael Hunter was quoted in the report as having said that “acts such as this against an unarmed man undermine the standards of our armed forces.”
While there are similarities between the charges brought against the Navy SEALs and those brought against the Royal Marines, the difference in the verdicts – at least in our opinion – lie in the fact that McCabe, Huertas and Keefe denied that the assault ever occurred. This fact was what led to their being court-martialed in the first place. They elected to fight the allegations in court and prove that they did nothing wrong, that it was wrong for them to have been tried at all, and that they deserved nothing less than exoneration.